Web Standards

There’s been a lot of talk around the web recent­ly about design­ing bet­ter web sites:

I’ve just spent a good chunk of my sat­ur­day work­ing on this very site. Though it may look as near­ly iden­ti­cal to yes­ter­day’s Ned­ward, I’ve done some major over­hauls “under the hood”.

  • First­ly, I’ve made a huge effort to more accu­rate­ly sep­a­rate struc­ture from con­tent. A lot of images are now spec­i­fied in CSS, and stray <br />s rather than clut­ter­ing up the code.
  • I’ve improved the seman­tics of the site. Bye Bye <span class=“title”>Hello World</span><br/> … wel­come back, <H1>,<H2>,<H3>
  • Unordered list bul­lets! What a night­mare it is to replace default bul­lets with cus­tom images… a nice solu­tion was to use our friend background:url

Hav­ing just fin­ished read­ing Mr. Zeld­man’s book on Web Stan­dards, believe me, I’ve seen the light. It’s real­ly a shift in think­ing for a whole indus­try of peo­ple like me who designed and built web­sites in the 90s.

Actu­al­ly, for­get about the 90s– the project I work on now, (which is for a cer­tain soft­ware mak­er locat­ed in a cer­tain north­west­ern state), I rou­tine­ly have to deal with and debug some of the ugli­est pro­pri­etary IE code known to man. I almost feel I should apol­o­gize to this client for not fix­ing it for them. Sad­ly, that’s not what I get paid to do.

There is an ele­gance and beau­ty to cod­ing with web stan­dards. And Zeld­man’s book is good not because it’s a total ref­er­ence of all things CSS – it’s not — he assumes we all under­stand the basics of CSS. What’s most inter­est­ing about it is Zeld­man’s expla­na­tion for why we did­n’t code prop­er­ly in the past, and why we must now.

I like Jason Kot­tke’s point that there are oth­er con­sid­er­a­tions to design­ing good web­sites, such as good seman­tics and acces­si­bil­i­ty. I guess I’m head­ing in the right direction.

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